In order to “tell the historical narrative of Congo and Belgium in a constructive, forward-looking manner”, Belgium’s first Congolese cultural centre opened in Brussels on Friday, 15 December 15. Alderwoman for Equal Opportunities, Lydia Mutyebele Ngoi, was present during the official inauguration of the centre, located on Boulevard Poincaré 77 in Anderlecht, where visitors will be able to find a great array of events centred around Congolese culture.
During the opening, Mutyebele Ngoi described the new hub as a “haven for transmission, learning, and discovery”. The location will host concerts, exhibitions, screenings, literary cafés and a wide range of information concentrated on the culture and history of Congo and Africa. She described it as a celebration of the “richness of Congolese and other African cultures in all their complexity” and stated there would be a special place for significant contributions made by women.
“We acknowledge the shared past between Belgium and Congo. We want this centre to disseminate their history and, more importantly, serve as a platform to empower the Congolese, Belgian-Congolese, and African communities in Brussels”, Brussels Mayor, Philippe Close, said in a statement.
Also present at the opening, Brussels’ alderwoman for culture, Delphine Houba, said the centre is hopefully going to be an “immersion into the heart of different African cultures and a reflection of the diversity of any communities coexisting in Brussels and in Belgium”.
The new centre can be framed within the UN General Assembly’s International Decade for People of African Descent, established in 2015. Belgium and other countries with a colonial past were urged by the UN to “address the root causes of present-day racism”. Within that programme, the Congolese cultural centre can be seen as a crucial milestone on the way to decolonisation.